Local News

Melon Farmers Face Another Hurdle

Rocky Ford Melons

ROCKY FORD, Colo. - First it was a Listeria scare, then drought. Melon farmers in Rocky For have some hurdles to overcome.

The Hirakata family knows their melons. They've been planting them for more than 100 years, but this year isn't like the rest.

"The drought is hitting us pretty hard. We are only planting only 25% of our acres," said Hirakata.

But, he is planting 30% more melons.  He decided not to plant corn or wheat; those crops need too much water.

"The research center has been taking weather records for well over 100 years and this stretch is the worst in terms of lack of precipitation that we've ever seen," said Dr. Michael Bartolow, CSU vegetable crop specialist.

Hirakata is using well water to start this year's melons. There will be 18 acres of cantaloupe.  In three months Hirakata will be picking more than 150,000 melons, but that doesn't mean his struggles are over.

"It's going to take a couple of years to recover from this drought," said Hirakata.

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